Photos:: A futuristic library in Santiago by Chilean architect Mathias Klotz

One in a series of dispatches by Carolina A. Miranda on the art and architecture of Chile.

Give the building a quick glance and aspects of it appear almost pixelated, like bits of data flashing through the ether. Everywhere, there are boxes and lines, as if its facades were rendered out of geometric bits of flashing, immobile light. But look closer and you’ll see that the Nicanor Parra Library, designed by Chilean architect Mathias Klotz, is made of far simpler building blocks — concrete, glass and wood — all arranged to provide a shimmering, 8-bit effect.

The 49-year-old architect is known in Chile for his plays on shadow and light — which he has deployed in the design of many homes (such as the cliff-side Casa 11 Mujeres in Cachagua, north of Santiago) as well as various public buildings (the Altamira School in the Peñalolén district of Santiago).

Klotz serves as dean of the architecture school at the private Diego Portales University, where the library resides. And while he is well-known in Chile, his international profile has grown in recent years. This week, in fact, an exhibition of his work, “Mathias Klotz: The Poetic of Boxes,” opens at the Oris House, an architectural center in Zagreb, Croatia.


As with a lot of Chilean architects, Klotz’s use of material in the Nicanor Parra Library (built in honor of the iconoclastic Chilean poet) is quite remarkable. The screen lining the atrium appears to be raining down light from the sky, but it’s really a simple structure of unfinished wood that has been stained black. No expensive LEDs here.

Plataforma Arquitectura has an interesting three-minute video on the building by Cristobal Palma that is worth watching — especially since the filmmaker was able to access areas that I was unable to photograph. But a glance through the gallery of images above will give you a sense of the way Klotz plays with shadow, light and line.

The Nicanor Parra Library is located at Vergara 324 in downtown Santiago. The atrium and cafes are accessible to the public.

Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.